by Tammy Taylor~
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I was given a boatload of fresh carrots recently and I didn’t want them to go to waste. Now I’ve written before about turning ugly carrots into beautiful carrots by chopping ugly carrots into uniform pieces. But these carrots were already beautiful and there were WAY too many for us to eat fresh. And I didn’t want to waste any of them so I decided to dehydrate them.
In past carrot dehydrating I’d steamed the carrots instead of blanching them. Then I dehydrated them using my small household-sized dehydrator. But now I have a 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator. I can really do some damage to that mountain of carrots now! Come see what I did.
I’ve read that if you blanch the carrots before dehydrating it will preserve the color and taste much better in storage and I can tell you that’s true. As I mentioned, last time I steamed instead of blanching the carrots. I thought steaming would offer the same benefit but apparently steaming isn’t the same as actual blanching. My carrots in storage turned a pale yellow and although they didn’t smell like they’d actually gone bad, they didn’t have that robust carrot aroma.
Sadly I had to throw away the ones I had left in the pantry. Have I mentioned how much I hate to waste food?? I’m not gonna make the same mistake this time!
Preparing Carrots For Dehydration
So I put on a pot of water to boil and started processing those carrots. I typically peel them because in my experience the peels can have a slightly bitter taste. A quick peeling and trimming the ends and then I plopped them in the bowl. Water on the stove? Still waiting to come up to a boil.
While we’re waiting I’ll continue processing those carrots. I don’t want the carrots very big because I’ll be dropping them into my simmering Endless Soup this winter. So each peeled, trimmed carrot was then cut into pieces approximately 2.5″ long. Then I split each one in half longways.
Huge Carrot-Chopping Shortcut!
Now to dice them all up. I want to make them uniform sized so they’ll dehydrate better. Enter my * Vidalia Chop Wizard.
My mom bought this nifty gadget for me years ago for my birthday. I typically shy away from ‘as seen on TV’ stuff but, you know, gift. I will say that I love this bad boy! My chopping of these carrots is about to be sped up big time!I take those pieces and place them 1 – 2 at a time onto the cutting grid and press the lid down. BOOM! Oh, this is gonna be great. (check water on stove, STILL waiting to boil!)
So I take about 20 carrots and dice them using this procedure and I’ve got quite the strainer full now. Surely NOW the water’s boiling?
Nope. Dang it takes a long time to bring this much water up to a boil.
Well, maybe I’ll go ahead & process another full colander full and make good use of that boiling water… IF it ever boils! You know what they say about a watched pot. I’ll get busy on the second batch.
About the time I got the second batch of carrots peeled, trimmed and diced the water in my big stock pot had FINALLY came to a boil. (can I get a Hallelujah??!)
Blanching The Diced Carrots
So I lowered my metal colander slowly into the boiling pot and waited for it to come back to a boil. Thankfully that was just a couple of minutes. Then I sat my timer and blanched the diced carrots for 3 minutes. Some instructions say 2 minutes but I went for three.
Then I pulled the strainer out of the boiling water and dumped the blanched carrots into an ice bath to stop any further cooking process. I filled the colander with batch 2 and processed it the same. Yep, I’m pretty glad I put that already-boiling water to good use. Heck it took so long to get it to boil the first time – That’s about 20 minutes I’ll never get back again!
Then I drained all the blanched & cooled carrots and arranged them in a single layer on my *Excalibur Dehydrator trays. After the trays were loaded I slid them into the dehydrator and set the temp to 135.
After about 6 hrs I checked on them. Nope, they’re noticeably drier and shrunken, but not completely dry by a long shot. While I’m there I go ahead & rearrange the trays for even drying. Then I checked again in a couple more hours. Nope, not yet.
A couple of hours after that they were done. So for me it took about 10 hours at 135 degrees but your actual time will be dependent upon your machine, how thickly you cut the carrots, how long you blanch them and even the humidity where you live. You want to make sure they’re thoroughly dry, hard little rocks.
So now that they’re done I bring the dehydrator back into the kitchen and let the trays with carrots sit right there in the dehydrator for a few hours. I want them to be fully cooled just to make sure there’s no chance of condensation sneaking into my jar of dehydrated gloriousness .
Storing Dehydrated Carrots
Then I scoop ’em all up & put them into a quart canning jar. I decided to use these * Reusable Chalkboard Labels to make it easier to see in my pantry. I’d made sliced carrots as well (although I’m not sure I’ll like them as well) so these labels really help me see which jar is holding the carrots I’m looking for.
If I use all the carrots and decide to put dehydrated onions in that jar next, I simply wipe the label clean and write the new contents. Yeah, I love these labels!
Can you believe that mountain of carrots fit in these two little jars? Me neither! As I mentioned earlier if I’m making soup I’ll probably drop them directly into the simmering broth as long as it will be simmering 15 minutes or longer. Otherwise I’ll use them as a veggie side. It’s easy, I’ll rehydrate them by pouring boiling water on them and letting them sit covered for 15-20 minutes until they plump back up. My plan is to season them lightly with salt & pepper, a small pat of real butter and some minced fresh rosemary from the garden.
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